Our newest business member, SBO Distributors Ltd., is a sales agency specialized in import of overseas high-end home accessories which they sell to independent retailers across Canada. They are located in the heart of North Vancouver. We got the chance to talk to the owners Diana and Thomas Arn about how they started a career in this industry and where they see the biggest challenges for their business.
SBO Distributors Ltd.
Tell us about your business, what do you exactly do?
We represent quality brands from around the world, preferably European made in different categories: personal accessories (wallets, watches, jewelry), tabletop (glassware, tableware, cutlery) and housewares.
Why did you decide to establish a life in Canada and start such a company?
The beginning was rather unplanned. After we moved to Canada, we stumbled upon Bopla!, Swiss quality porcelain dishes that are famous for their funny and cheeky designs, via a good friend of ours in Switzerland who mentioned this innovative brand to us. We met with the people in Langenthal and started to import and distribute it in Canada.
How did you build up your network in the industry?
In the beginning we loaded up our car and cold called on retailers, one at a time. Later, we started to exhibit at trade shows to extend our network.
What are your biggest opportunities in Canada and Switzerland?
Switzerland offers great products and has a very reliable and stable environment in which to do business. We are always looking to see if there is something we can introduce to the Canadian market. Canada is a friendly place in which to do business and people are open and eager to embrace new ideas and products.
What are your interests in British Columbia?
British Columbia is a very beautiful province. We love the outdoors with the mountains and the ocean close by and easily accessible.
What are the biggest challenges for a small sales agency?
We need to stay agile and open minded as the business is moving very quickly. For a small company like ours the trend to consolidation is challenging and we need to always find ways to stay relevant and to add value to our customers.
What is always in your suitcase when you come back from Switzerland?
Some Läderach chocolates for sure! But also the newest edition Caran d’Ache pen, plus the latest books, magazines and newspapers. We usually need to buy an extra suitcase so that it all fits!
The SCCC would like to thank our members Diana and Thomas Arn for the time and effort spent for this interview.